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I always enjoyed viewing these photographs over the years whenever my mother or grandmother would bring them out and we would sit down and breeze through these beauties. Images of them and their paintings on display in New York City.

There is significant family painting history in Greenwich Village, where my grandmother, Blanche (Nathan) Hesslein and my mother, Bernice (Erickson) Hesslein painted in Washington Square Park in the 1920's through 1950s.

All the work in these photos sold at the time. Some were bought by collectors, passerby's and galleries on the east coast. Something I recall my grandmother telling me, at the time that the paintings sold for $50 - $500 each, depending on size and content.

"A great sum at the time," she would say.

These photographs will display some of the work from this period and I plan to post them all eventually once i have them cleaned up and presentable. All are in black and white and all have an unique impact from that time. Some are from the Depression era and in some ways you can feel the darkness.

By the late 1940s 1950s New York City was just beginning to be the center of the art world and many painters were searching for their voices and their particular own style and imagery.

Many of the photographs were shot in and around MacDougal Street and MacDougal Alley in Greenwich Village, a favorite atmosphere for them to work. They often showed their paintings in exhibitions around the park and they both shared a studio on MacDougal Alley in the 1930s through the 1950s.

Blanche and Bernice spent spent considerable time painting outdoors in the lush park with trees swaying and birds flying in the middle of that public square in New York City.

MacDougal Alley is a dead-end off MacDougal Street, south of West 8th Street. The Alley was established in 1883 to house stables for the townhouses located there at the time, some are still standing. From 1949 to 1950 Jackson Pollock lived at Number 9 on the alley. Poet Edward A. Robinson and sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, founder of the Whitney Museum also lived along the alley. MacDougal Alley is one of the final Manhattan streets lit by gas lamps.

The alley and street were named for Scottish-born Alexander MacDougal (1732-1786), an original Son of Liberty who was imprisoned in 1770 for writing a pamphlet denouncing restrictions the British had placed on trade in the colonies. He received so many visitors that his jailers had to make an appointment list.

During the Revolutionary War he rose to major general, later represented New York State in the Continental Congress, became a state senator and the first president of the Bank of New York.

Blanche Hesslein
Musician's Daydream (Greenwich Village MacDougal Alley)
NYC 1952
oil on wood panel

Musician's Daydream (Greenwich Village MacDougal Alley

Click to view a High Resolution image

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